Devilishly Clever ‘Doe’s Foot’

These notched sticks simplify your workholding at the bench.

by Christopher Schwarz
pages 38-39

Workbenches didn’t always have vises. In fact, for most of human history, workbenches around the world were nothing more than a stoutly made table with a few holes. The woodworker kept the work stationary with a combination of pegs, battens, holdfasts, parts of their bodies and a few notched sticks that were sometimes called “doe’s feet.”

I first became fascinated by the doe’s foot after seeing U.K. woodworker Richard Maguire use one in lieu of a tail vise. And after several years of research and trials at my own bench, the doe’s foot has become an indispensable part of my workholding.

It’s a fiendishly clever and simple appliance. And even if you have a workbench with all the bells and whistles, you’ll find a doe’s foot useful in a pinch. Plus, if you ever work on-site without a workbench – or on a picnic table on vacation – the doe’s foot is a lifesaver.

Blog: Read Richard Maguire’s original post on the “notched batten.”
Blog: Read about the rubberized treads to improve the doe’s foot.
Blog: Holdfast Holes: Where Should They be Located?
To Buy: Benchcrafted’s Planing Stop
In our store: “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use Revised Edition” by Christopher Schwarz.

From the November 2017 issue, #235